Pacers at Bulls

GAME RECAP: Pacers 125, Bulls 86

Victor Oladipo scores 23 points and Domantas Sabonis adds 22 off the bench as the Pacers cruise to a 125-86 victory over the Bulls.

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 125, Bulls 86

Victor Oladipo scores 23 points and Domantas Sabonis adds 22 off the bench as the Pacers cruise to a 125-86 victory over the Bulls.
Jan 6, 2018  |  01:28

Oladipo Thrives in Return

Jan. 6, 2018 - Pacers guard Victor Oladipo racked up 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting, six rebounds, nine assists, and five steals in his first game back after missing four contests with a sore right knee.
Jan 6, 2018  |  01:52

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Jan. 6, 2018

January 6, 2018 - Pacers players Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and T.J. Leaf discussed Indiana's 125-86 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan 6, 2018  |  02:57

Leaf With the One-Handed Slam

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  05:14

Leaf Throws it Down

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  04:45

Vic Dishes to Domas

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  04:25

Thad With A Nice Finish

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  04:03

Sabonis Spins for the Finish

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  03:06

Leaf Finishes a Nice Possession

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  02:12

Sabonis Works in the Post

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  01:51

Oladipo Steals and Flushes It Home

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  01:23

Oladipo Gets Involved Early

January 06, 2018: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 6, 2018  |  00:32

Game Rewind: Pacers 125, Bulls 86

Saturday, January 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
by Greg Rappaport
Pacers.com Writer
@Greg_Rappaport

Game Recap

After missing four games with a sore right knee, Victor Oladipo stormed back into action on Saturday night, putting forth a virtuoso performance as the Pacers snapped a five-game losing streak, easily dispatching the Bulls 125-86.

It didn't take long for Oladipo to reintroduce himself to the home crowd, scoring the game's first points with a put-back slam.

Oladipo finished his night filling up the box score in seemingly every category, racking up 23 points, nine assists, six rebounds, five steals, and just one turnover.

If there were any signs of rust from having sat out for two weeks, they certainly weren't visible to the fans in attendance as Oladipo oscillated between rim-rattling slams, no-look passes, and pull-up 3-pointers.

"I was just out there playing," said Oladipo, who recorded five steals in the first quarter alone. "I just kind of get lost in the game and do whatever I can to help my teammates. I just try to set the tone at both ends."

Surprisingly, the game's key stretch for the Pacers (20-19) occurred without Oladipo on the floor.

To open the second quarter, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan rolled out a bench unit featuring Domantas Sabonis, TJ Leaf, Lance Stephenson, Cory Joseph, and Joe Young.

With the Pacers already leading by five points, the group essentially put the game away in the first half, opening the quarter with a battering 15-2 run.

Leaf, whose minutes have been mercurial this season, made the most of his time on the floor, scoring 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting, five of which came during Indiana's bruising second quarter run.

Also of note was Joe Young, who connected on back-to-back buckets while also swiping a Bulls pass during his first shift on the floor. Young finished his night with 11 points.

The powerful Pacers run put the hosts up by 20, but the Pacers hardly slowed from there. As the starters reentered the game, Indiana kept its avalanche of scoring in motion, outpacing the Bulls 33-11 in the game-deciding second quarter.

"You're always are a little concerned when guys are coming back off an injury," McMillan said of Oladipo. "You know we wanted to be cautious with him, as far as his minutes, and we're watching him closely out there. He and I talked about just allowing the game to come to him, have fun, don't put pressure on yourself, and he did. I thought he came out and was relaxed."

In the third quarter, Oladipo continued his torrid scoring, putting in the Pacers' first seven points of the second half.

Things continued to falter for the Bulls (14-26) defense throughout the quarter, as Indiana hung 37 points on the visitors in the frame, taking a virtually insurmountable 101-67 lead into the fourth quarter.

"The bottom line is, (Indiana) looked comfortable all night," said Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg. "They brought the fight to us tonight. They got into us right away. We didn't handle it well."

For the Pacers, Saturday's game came as a relief as they snapped what had been their longest losing streak of the season, moving the team back above the .500 mark.

Emotionally, the return of aspiring All-Star Oladipo clearly provided a boost for the Blue & Gold, as the Pacers racked up their highest point total since their overtime win over the Nuggets on December 10th.

The Bulls — who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back — were never able to get it going against the Pacers' pressure defense, finishing the night shooting a lowly 38 percent from the field.

With the 39-point win, Indiana opened its four-game homestand on the right note, breaking loose from its recent stretch of underwhelming play as Oladipo's return brought a spark to a Pacers team desperately in need of one.

"That's an All-Star guy," Leaf said of Oladipo after the game. "Any time he's in the lineup, he's going to make things a little easier, gonna take the pressure off guys. But in this league it's next man up, especially with this team. We know how much talent we have, but it's certainly nice to have a guy like that back."

Inside the Numbers

Seven Pacers scored in double-figures during the victory. Domantas Sabonis nearly reached his career high of 24, finishing his night with 22 points.

The Pacers did much of their damage from long range, sending in 15-of-31 (48.4) 3-pointers on the night.

Rebounding, an area that the Pacers have struggled in, was no problem on Saturday as the Pacers beat out the Bulls 49-35 on the glass.

You Can Quote Me On That

"When you have a guy like that who is capable of creating opportunities for a team and have the ability to not only create opportunities for himself but as well as his teammates, it just frees you up. A lot of what our guys have to do is catch and shoot. The defense is focused on him a little more, he's capable of playing one on one and you know you have an advantage in a lot of those situations. I thought defensively he helped us establish the pressure by getting up, coming up with a couple of steals. With his speed we were able to get into transition and get some easy baskets, so yes he does have a huge impact on what we like to do out there." -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan

"They just had active hands. We talked about being strong with the ball. It's how they play, they bore you over screens, great hands in the pocket, they overhelp. We just didn't overcome their physicality on that end." -Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg

"I think it's definitely something you have to learn. It's not an easy thing to do; but once you learn to do it, you just kind of have to accept it. That's something that I've been trying to do. If I play, great, I'm going to go out there and play my hardest. If I don't, then I'm just going to cheer on the bench and hopefully we get a win. That's just my mindset." -Pacers forward TJ Leaf on staying focused

Stat of the Night

The Pacers' 125 points were the highest that they've scored in a game without overtime since their 130-107 win over the Timberwolves on October 24th.

Noteworthy

  • Bojan Bogdanovic missed his first game of the season with a sprained left ankle.
  • Bobby Portis led the Bulls in scoring with 15 points.
  • In his return to the court, Victor Oladipo posted a game-best +29 plus-minus<.>
  • TJ Leaf posted a career-high six rebounds on Saturday.

Up Next

On their second Hickory Night of the season, the Pacers will honor the life and legacy of the legendary John Wooden when Indiana takes on Milwaukee on Monday, January 8th at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »